Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”
The First Amendment assumes that the proper sphere of government is policies, not values. And so it protects the right of political participation and prohibits a state church that would define values.
The government had the right to decide to go to war with France. It did not have a right to decide what you should believe. Politics extended into the realm of policies, not beliefs.
But as religious belief declined, politics replaced it as the repository of moral and ethical values. This transformation began on the left. The left was the least religious in the traditional sense. And the most likely to build up an ideology of secular values with which to displace traditional religious values.
The last century witnessed an extensive effort to scrub religious values out of government. But this effort was matched by an equally comprehensive project to replace them with the left’s own values. Unlike the wall between church and state, there were few legal safeguards against writing values into legislation if they were irreligious ones. The church was deemed to be the true threat. Not the state.
But the end result looks very much like an establishment of religion. Even in the church sense.
The values written into the legislation reflect those of certain churches, but not others. When nuns are forced to pay for birth control and Christian photographers with traditional beliefs are compelled to participate in gay weddings, the government is picking religious establishment “winners and losers”.
The winners are roughly on the religious left and the losers on the religious right.
Unitarians win, Baptists lose. Quakers win, Mormons lose. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) triumphs over the Presbyterian Church in America. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America prevails over the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. It’s hard not to see this as an establishment of religion.
This isn’t about doctrinal battles or gay marriage. It’s about the culture war fallout from the left’s power to write its values into law and into the codes of conduct that hold sway in in private organizations.
We take the truth of our values on faith. They are a matter of subjective conviction, not objective fact. To those who believe in them, they appear to be the absolute truths of the enlightened. But they cannot be proven to be true in any meaningful way. You either believe in them. Or you don’t.
Google fired James Damore for questioning a tenet of its beliefs. That is in theory illegal. The search engine monopoly created forums in which employees were meant to discuss these very issues. Damore was not fired for expressing his views at work, but for politely expressing the “incorrect” view.
California law protects employees fired for both religious and political views. But the “hostile workplace” pretext that led to Damore’s firing is an example of how the left’s values are the basis of legislation. Much as “public accommodation” civil rights protect the demand to participate rather than the right of religious dissent, the protection of minority participation is at the heart of the left’s bid for equality. But this has never truly been a matter of law, but of values. The law mandates the elimination of obstacles. It does not demand that values winners and losers be chosen to achieve equality. That is a leftist bias.
The left defends imposing its values by force through outrage at selective “suffering” on the one hand and abstractions about the empowerment of participatory equality on the other. Ultimately though it cannot defend its values without reference to those values. That is typical of belief systems.
The left’s secular religion functions as a theocracy. It promises salvation through Socialism, warns that human sin will destroy the world through global warming and is engaged in a perpetual struggle against those who do not share its values. It wages war on religious freedom because it is a kind of religion.
There can be no political freedom where there is no religious freedom. Religion is more encompassing than politics can ever be. Politics addresses which policy best accomplishes a particular goal. Religion tackles the question of what the goal should be. If you don’t have the freedom to determine your own goals, then your ability to choose policies is as meaningless as some European elections.
Leftist systems seek to create “democratic” arenas in which we are free to disagree on policies, but not goals. They do this by writing values into the system so that only one sort of goal is deemed acceptable.
Deviations from the goal are not acceptable. Questioning the goal is heresy. And leads to sanctions.
Trump Derangement Syndrome, Google’s firing of James Damore and the violent attacks on conservative speakers are all examples of what happens when the goals are blasphemously challenged.
Politics is far more likely to turn violent over values rather than policy. That is why the Founders wanted politics to be confined to policy rather than values. We can rationally debate policy, but we can’t debate values. We can argue over what we feel to be true, but the revelations of our deepest selves cannot be proven. And when they are challenged, anger, hostility and even violence quickly follow.
The First Amendment helped build a system where our representatives debated what we should do, rather than what we should think. Politicians were meant to get things done, not argue dogma. The culture war we are in is less about what we should do than what we should think. The violent confrontations and clashes are not really about campus safe spaces or Confederate memorials, but how we should see ourselves. The confrontations are meant to be both polarizing and clarifying.
They’re a religious war. The left has established its religion. And violence against heretics swiftly follows.
America is in the midst of an ugly conflict because our political system was hijacked by the Church of the Left. The legislative and judicial hijacking of our system has turned our politics into a culture war. To end the conflict we must return to a true understanding of the First Amendment. It is not the role of government to tell us what to think or what to believe. And any government that embarks on such a totalitarian enterprise will tear apart our society and destroy our way of life.
As the left has been doing.
Restoring the Constitution and ending the violence will require unwriting the left’s values from our laws.
Trump hails ‘big week’ for historic move; ‘Congratulations to all,’ he tweets ahead of May 14 opening
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman gives a first glimpse of the new US embassy in Jerusalem on May 11, 2018, ahead of its opening on May 14 (Screenshot)
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Friday gave a first glimpse of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, showing off workers erecting the official seal on the building and preparing for the opening ceremony.
“We are so excited,” Friedman said in a video posted on the embassy’s Facebook page. “We have the official seal of the United States embassy. We have the dedication plaque. They are covered right now, but on Monday they are going to be unveiled.”
‘Next time in Jerusalem,’ jubilant Barzilai yells after victory; ‘Toy’ marks Israel’s 4th win; hundreds jump in Rabin Square fountain to celebrate; PM calls her ‘best ambassador’
Netta Barzilai after winning the final of the 63rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, on May 12, 2018. (AFP/ Francisco LEONG)
Israel won the Eurovision song contest for the first time in two decades Saturday as singer Netta Barzilai clucked and bucked her way to the top of the international song contest with women’s empowerment anthem “Toy.”
Backed up by three dancers, her trademark side buns featuring stripes of pink dyed hair to match her pink-and-black outfit, Barzilai busted her way through “Toy” on stage in Lisbon, Portugal, punctuating her singing with her trademark eye rolls and chicken dance moves
Quoted by US president one day, hosted by Russia’s president the next, PM is on a high, including in the polls. But will this encourage his more divisive tendencies?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after the Victory Parade marking the 73th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
JTA — On Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu began his week by meeting his Cypriot and Greek counterparts to finalize the commercial export to Europe of Israeli gas that he has pushed to exploit for about a decade.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from nuclear deal with Iran was widely seen as a coup for Israel’s prime minister, a fierce opponent of the deal.
The same day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that Israel seized Iran’s archive of its military nuclear program in Tehran and spirited it to Israel, a video was posted of IDF soldiers singing Soltane Ghalbha, a traditional Persian love song – in Persian.
Taken together, the two events demonstrate the purpose of Netanyahu’s presentation.
Netanyahu’s detractors in the US and Israel called his presentation as a dog and pony show. “He didn’t tell us anything we haven’t known for years,” they sniffed.
Moreover, they insisted, Netanyahu’s presentation was actually counterproductive because he couldn’t show evidence that Iran is in breach of the nuclear deal it concluded in 2015 and so did nothing to persuade the Europeans to abandon the deal.
While US policy-makers are trying desperately to stabilize Afghanistan, a shift is being orchestrated by China.
The Chinese evidently see their role in Afghanistan as the “good cop” versus the U.S. role as “bad cop.” Like Pakistan, China seems to view the Taliban as the political opposition, not as a terrorist organization, and has offered itself as an intermediary to negotiate the departure of the U.S. and, thereby, be in a position to reap the economic and geopolitical benefits of Afghanistan as a client state of the China-Pakistan alliance.
Reuters/Ipsos set a new standard this week when it condemned its own polling as unreliably favorable to the president.
“This week’s Reuters/Ipsos Core Political release presents something of an outlier of our trend,” stated a paragraph that appeared before the press release on its latest polling even began.
“Every series of polls has the occasional outlier, and in our opinion, this is one. So, while we are reporting the findings in the interest of transparency, we will not be announcing the start of a new trend until we have more data to validate this pattern.”
For the sixth Friday in a row, protestors from Gaza came to Israel’s border with intentions to penetrate it. They come with scissors to cut through the fence, with burning tires, Molotov cocktails, slingshots with rocks, and kites with firebombs attached to them to destroy Israeli farmlands and villages.
This is not some peaceful demonstration akin to Selma in the 1960s when blacks were simply trying to sit together with whites at a lunch counter. The usage of the word “demonstrators” is a misnomer; these are “rioters.”
What would happen if the world took Pope Francis’ advice (via a tweet)? “Do we really want peace? Then let’s ban all weapons so we don’t have to live in fear of war,” said the pontiff.
While on the surface, the disappearance of all weapons might suggest the inability to do violence, in reality, it would mean the certain annihilation of the West as a civilization.
When a Philadelphia Starbucks manager called the police after two black men refused to leave, the chain of events ended with the burnt taste of the overpriced coffee chain colluding with anti-Semitism.
Starbucks reacted to the brief arrest by blaming the police, but Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who is African-American, initially said that his officers, “did absolutely nothing wrong”. But then he was forced to offer a bewildering apology to the arrested men, the officers and the entire city.
“It is me who in large part made most of the situation worse than it was,” he announced.
“Your threshing season will last until your grape harvest, and your grape harvest will last until the time you plant. You will have your fill of food, and you will dwell securely in your land” (Vayikra 26:5).
This blessing is promised to the People of Israel on condition that, as a unified nation, they observe the laws of the Torah and live by its spirit. Its promise is quite surprising. Not only will the Israelites have plenty to eat but, as the verse clearly indicates, the Jews will experience an overflow of food. The first season, when produce is brought to the threshing floor, will last until the days of the grape harvest, which in turn will continue into the planting season.